You identify your audience. You write compelling copy. You create dynamic, on-brand visuals. Now what?
To intelligently shape your social media strategy, social media measurement must be a priority.
Beautiful visuals and witty copy can only get you so far. If you aren't examining your social media data, drawing inferences, and adjusting your social strategy accordingly, you aren't getting the most out of the beast that is social media marketing.
The first step of using measurement to inform your social media strategy is to determine which metrics matter to you and your business goals. There are countless numbers to sift through, whether you’re using native analytics tools or expensive measurement softwares. So how do you figure out which metrics are most important to you?
First, identify what your goals are.
Social media serves three primary purposes for businesses:
- Brand awareness/equity
- If you’re aiming to increase and improve your online presence, establish credibility, and become a thought leader in your industry, you should look closely at your brand awareness/brand equity metrics.
- If your business goals are centered around creating a conversation, building relationships, and fostering interest in your product or brand, engagement metrics will be most important to you.
- If your business goals are to directly convert digital followers to paying clients, take a deep dive into your conversion metrics.
Next, learn your metrics.
Each of these goals is measured by a set of relevant social media metrics. Let's dive in.
Social media success begins with getting your brand's content in front of the people that matter. You can't get on the social media A-list (or even the social media B, C, or D lists) if no one is seeing your content.
- Followers: This one is pretty straight forward. Your follower numbers represent the number of people who have clicked “follow” or “like” on your social media pages to opt in to your content being served in their feed. A quick reminder: just because someone follows you, doesn’t necessarily mean that they see all of your content. That’s when paid social media comes in.
- Growth Rate: Growth rate takes your follower metric to the next level, helping you understand how quickly you’re gaining followers. To get this number, (1) measure your net new followers over your reporting period, (2) divide this number by your total audience, and (3) multiply by 100.
- Impressions: The number of times your content is displayed. Impressions include multiple displays of the same post on one person’s feed. For example, if you see a tweet on your feed, and then see it again when your friend retweets it, that would be measured as two impressions.
- Reach: Often confused with impressions, reach is the number of people who have viewed your content. Impression numbers are often higher than reach numbers, as reach numbers only account for unique views.
- Sentiment: Sentiment analysis is a way of measuring the emotion associated with social media mentions of your brand or product. If you have 1M mentions, that’s awesome - but only if the majority of those mentions are positive. Sentiment analysis, provided by softwares such as Mention, Brandwatch, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social, will measure the percentage of your mentions that are negative (“Coca Cola is gross”), and the percentage that are positive (“Coca Cola is incredible”).
- Share of Voice: Share of voice is the percentage of social media activity across your industry that is about your brand. This is an excellent way to gauge how you’re performing in comparison to your competitors. To calculate, (1) add the number of posts in your industry, (2) add up the number of these posts that are about your brand, (3) divide the number about your brand by the number of total industry posts, and (4) multiply by 100.
Social media is inherently... social. Think of it as a big party, in which every guest is hoping to make friends with everyone else. If your brand isn’t actively building relationships and taking part in the conversation, you’ll fall into the background quickly.
At the social media party, being a wallflower is never a good move.
- Engagement: Engagement is the total number of times your audience interacted with your content. This includes the sum of a post’s likes, comments, shares, retweets, and clicks.
- Engagement Rate: Engagement rate gives you an idea of how often the people who are viewing your content are actually interacting with it. To calculate a post's engagement rate, (1) add the total number of post engagements, (2) measure the post's impressions, (3) divide engagements by the total number of post impressions, and (4) multiply by 100.
- Virality Rate: Virality gives you a closer look at post shares. Shareable content is incredibly valuable on social media, as people are more willing to trust a brand that a friend recommends. To calculate: (1) measure a post’s impressions, (2) measure a post’s shares, (3) divide the number of shares by the number of impressions, and (4) multiply by 100.
- Applause Rate: When someone “likes” one of your posts, they’re communicating that your content is useful, interesting, or entertaining to them. Applause rate allows you to know what percentage of your audience finds your content valuable. To calculate your applause rate, (1) add the number of likes/favorites your post received, (2) divide that number by your total followers, and (3) multiply by 100.
Developing a loyal, engaged social media audience is incredibly valuable. When done right, that active audience leads to money in the bank. To turn your social media engagement into cash money, convert them into website visitors and customers.
- Conversion Rate: Conversion rate measures the number of users who, after clicking on a link in your social media post, take an action on your website (e.g., download an e-book, fill out a contact form, subscribe to your newsletter) against the total number of clicks generated by your social media post. To calculate conversion rate, (1) publish a post with a call-to-action link, (2) place a cookie on the user's device, attaching the lead to a campaign, (3) measure the total number of clicks/conversions generated by the post, (4) divide the total conversions by total clicks, and (5) multiply by 100.
- Click-Through Rate: Click through rate shows how frequently people are clicking on a call-to-action link in your post. Tracking your click-through rate is different than tracking the number of people who click anywhere on your post. Here, you are looking specifically at “link clicks.” To calculate this, (1) measure the number of link clicks, (2) measure your post's total impressions, (3) divide your post’s link clicks by your total impressions, and (4) multiply by 100.
- Bounce Rate: It’s awesome to know when people are loving your content, but it’s also critical to know when your audience is not interested in what you’re offering. Enter: bounce rate. Your bounce rate shows the percentage of social media page visitors who click on a link in your post, but then quickly leave the landing page without taking any action. Your bounce rate can be found in Google Analytics.
Now, put those metrics to work.
Diving past those pesky vanity metrics, and keeping a close eye on the metrics most important to you will allow you to see what’s working and what’s not working, so you can make adjustments to your content strategy. A large part of a successful social media strategy lies in your ability to shift and change direction as the metrics indicate.
That's all for now, friends. Social media measurement is a complex world of its own, but once you are able to understand the numbers and what they mean to your business goals, they can be pretty fun to work with. Stay tuned for more content on making the most of your social media analytics.